“Where are you from?” this question seems simple to answer but for some people this can be a real hassle. This is a really serious psychological fact, some people never feel home. They often have 2 or 3 different nationalities; they are born somewhere and travelled around a lot. Living a few years in Australia, moving to South Africa, and ending up a few years later in China, a life anyone would love to have.
This psychological concept was discovered by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem. She explained that it is not really a problem of adaptation to another country, “Third Culture Kids” adapt really quickly to any country they are in, it is more a problem of not knowing where you belong and which culture you have to consider your own culture. By culture we can understand “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc… of a particular society, group, place, or time”, but also this word has a different meaning for all of us. The “third culture kid” term comes from a simple equation: Someone who has a birth culture (where he is born) and a new culture (country where he moves to) creates a third culture in which he tries to identify himself.
In fact these people are able to understand other people and other cultures way better than anyone else, they are able to make close friends in a country very easily, because they are more open-minded and understand some cultural aspects of personality better than anyone else. But it hides an important suffering: 90% of the TCK said they feel “out of sync” with their peers, they don’t feel the impression of belonging in a group or belonging in a country, they don’t feel understood. Most of the TCK’s feel restless, and feel the need to travel. Being a TCK means never being able to know where “home” is, always have the feeling that you are looking for something you can’t reach. Being a TCK means having a globalized culture and having a chameleon-like ability to adapt in every culture without feeling any culture is yours.
This erases so many questions about identity, about culture… Would culture be defined by the place where you were born, the place you were raised, the place where you lived the longest? What’s culture anyway? Does it have he same definition for all of us?
Robert Service once said:
Did you ever feel like leaving? Leaving your whole live, burn your identity and start your life all over again in another country like Alexander Supertramp in “Into the wild”?? Do you stare at national geographics, dreaming about wild virgin places? Do you have an app that gives you the time in all the countries in the world? Are you daydreaming as soon as you see an airplane in the sky? Do you have a bucketlist of all the countries you want to visit? Well you have a high probability of having the “wanderlust” syndrome.
“Wanderlust”, comes form a German term composed of wandern (to hike) and Lust (desire). It express a really strong desire and impulse to travel and experience the world. It is a kind of restlessness that will never leave you until you will have travel the whole world (yes, you can say there’s no cure for this disease, so good luck if you suffer from it).
Want to know if you belong to the Wanderlust community too? Here are some characteristics:
- You toss and turn at night worrying that Croatia is becoming more and more Westernized everyday.
- You look at strangers’ Facebook pages for their holiday pictures
- You can say ‘hello’ in a lot of different languages.
- Your family and friends and school and work and hobbies seem like the absolute worst.
- You don’t want a car but you only want to ride an elephant in Thailand or a camel in Morocco.
- You follow travel bloggers on Twitter and hate them.
- You’ve memorized all the carry-on baggage restrictions of the different companies you flew with.
- Working as an au pair sounds like a good idea.
- You fantasize about getting on a flight and disappearing, never telling anyone where you’ve gone, maybe one day sending a letter from a lost place.
- You set price alerts for flights from all over the world
- You convince yourself that your hometown is slowly suffocating you and the only cure is to get on a plane and go somewhere else.